Boston MeFike #2: Mt. Cardigan
posted July 12, 2011 12:10 PM   RSS | iCal | +googleCal

Sat August 13 at 10:00 AM, AMC Cardigan Lodge
774 Shem Valley Rd, Bristol, NH, USA (Map & Directions)
Join bondcliff, canine epigram, and cranberry_nut as we venture further North for a second MeFike in New England! Mefites from Boston and the rest of New England (or hell, anywhere) are welcome.
Following up on this weekend’s successful day at Blue Hills (link to past IRL event), we’re planning a hike up 3,155 foot Mount Cardigan in New Hampshire for Saturday, August 13th.

Hike Description / Difficulty
While still very much a beginner-oriented hike, this is a bit more of a serious undertaking than the recent Blue Hills hike. The trail we are planning to do is a 5.5-mile loop trail with a moderate ascent up a medium size (by New England standards) mountain. This is a mountain regularly hiked by beginners and children, as there are no dangerous drop offs or major stream crossings on the easier routes. Possible hazards include adverse weather, minor stream crossings, and slippery rocks (especially if wet). Unsafe conditions will turn us around. Elevation gain from trailhead to summit is 1800 feet (total elevation gain on the Blue Hills hike was roughly 1000 feet). The summit of Mt. Cardigan is often windy, though there are areas to get out of the wind.

A map of the loop hike is available here. As with any hike, the route may be adjusted based on the group's pace, signs of approaching weather problems, and any trail obstructions.

Participants should be in relatively decent shape and willing to push themselves beyond their usual routine. Expect at least two+ hours of solid uphill hiking with another two hours for the descent.

Guests are welcome but all hikers should be over the age of 18.

Participants will be expected to be properly equipped. Organizers will post a link to a shared document listing items to bring, but the highlights are (1) hiking boots strongly recommended; (2) plenty of water; (3) lunch and snacks, including an optional snack to share; (4) sunblock; (5) a warm, non-cotton sweater and windbreaker for the summit; (6) a warm hat; and (7) bugspray. Of course you will also need a backpack to fit them all in.

Please arrive at the trailhead close to 9:45am, as we will leave promptly at 10am. Carpooling is strongly encouraged as the parking lot gets quite full on summer days. Rides can be coordinated in the thread. Boston-area folks should expect to be on the highway prior to 8am. Allow additional time to meet up at carpooling locations. Cell phone signals should not be expected once off the highway.

The start of the hike will be at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Cardigan Lodge in Alexandria, NH. Directions are here. This can be a tricky trailhead to follow so pay attention to signage. There are small signs for "AMC Lodge" at many, but not all, turns once you get off the highway.

We’ll also plan a post-hike visit to a local establishment (TBD) for drinks and/or a snack following the hike.
posted by bondcliff to Meetup (23 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I realized through all that description we never once said why we're going to climb Mt. Cardigan.

Mt. Cardigan is a beautiful mountain. A small mountain that feels like a bigger one due to its smooth granite summit and 360 degree views. On a clear day you can see from Mt. Washington in one direction over to the Green Mountains and Adirondacks in the other. The trail up follows babbling brooks with crystal clear pools and winds through different types of forests, including a birch forest that under the right conditions looks like something out of an Ansel Adams photograph.

There is a small, still-active fire tower on top. If you're lucky it will be staffed by a friendly fire ranger who will give you a tour. If we're unlucky the grumpy dude will be there. Either way it's kind of neat.

Cardigan is the first mountain climbed by many a hiker. For many people, myself included, Mt. Cardigan is a special place. Join us on this hike and perhaps you'll see why.
posted by bondcliff at 8:24 PM on July 12, 2011

bondcliff: "I realized through all that description we never once said why we're going to climb Mt. Cardigan."

to get to the other side?
because it's there?

I am not sure I'll be able to make it, but I would like to, as last week's Blue Hills hike was very fun. I also hope to catch a glimpse of the advances that have been made in cookie technology.
posted by not_on_display at 6:09 AM on July 13, 2011

the cookie arms race is on!
posted by canine epigram at 12:50 PM on July 13, 2011

Okay, I'll confess. Instead of thinking about how cool it'll be to see the thing bondcliff describes, I've been thinking about what kind of cookies to make.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:54 PM on July 13, 2011

Really hiking boots? I'm very hesitant to go out and spend $100 on boots.

I've been trying to decide about this. I'd really love to do more hiking, but consider me daunted. That first section of the Blue Hills kinda kicked my ass. I was fine on the return, but there was far less climbing. I will be slow on a mountain. I don't want to slow down the group nor do I want to exhaust myself.

Basically, this is a big ol' I'll-get-back-to-you. But I am thinking (possibly too) hard about it.
posted by maryr at 6:13 PM on July 24, 2011

Oh, and it might be worth posting a reminder or a ride-meetup or something to a Boston location, just to catch anyone who might be interested and only pays attention to IRL when they get a within-5-miles type update.
posted by maryr at 6:15 PM on July 24, 2011

Given the planned hike, we really are suggesting hiking boots as opposed to sneakers. It'll be nearly twice the elevation gain of the Blue Hills hike, and given the terrain there's risk of a twisted ankle or other injury in non-supportive footwear (or footwear with insufficient traction). Some quick googling for hiking best practices unearthed this page -- while I don't know anything about that site, the logic is sound and the upcoming hike will be (1) unpaved, (2) fairly steep since it's a mountain, (3) hopefully snake-free, and (4) potentially damp given the brook crossing. Three out of four, to me, says wear the boots. (If you'll be wearing new ones, make sure you break them in first or you'll be covered in blisters.)

As for the Boston location, we've already been in touch with a mod and were advised not to post an event in Boston that isn't actually there. We've reached out to everyone from the Blue Hills hike -- if you know any Boston-area folks who would be interested, please feel free to send them a link!
posted by cranberry_nut at 9:54 AM on July 25, 2011

Seconding cranberry's comments - think of the hiking boots as an investment in a hobby, same as you would if you were buying a bike to go riding. You wouldn't just buy any old cheapie thing off Craigslist (one would hope), you'd think about what you were going to use the bike for, and make sure it met the need - ie, not buying a mountain bike for a commute, or a delicate road bike for off-roading BMX style.

There's the EMS in Harvard Square, I'm sure they could outfit you properly, if you're up for it.
posted by canine epigram at 12:07 PM on July 29, 2011

I've been trying to decide about this. I'd really love to do more hiking, but consider me daunted. That first section of the Blue Hills kinda kicked my ass.

Serious question: was it the terrain (jagged rocks, etc) that was bad or the climbing? The terrain on Cardigan is no worse, but there is more uphill. Hopefully the heat won't be as bad. If you're able to push yourself a bit, you'll be ok.

I've taken about 500 beginners up that mountain over the years; all of them have made it. It's kind of a Fisher Price My First Mountain sort of hike. No need to be daunted.

What alternates to hiking boots do you have?

I don't think you will see any snakes, unless one of us bakes them into cookies.

Feel free to memail me if you have any concerns or questions you don't want to bring up in thread.
posted by bondcliff at 4:31 PM on July 30, 2011

And yeah, we're trying to figure out how to deal with the "hike location / practical carpool meetup spot" difference. We could make the location the meetup spot, but then other, non-city people would miss it. I'd hate to think there's a lone MeFite up in Bristol New Hampshire who would miss the first ever meetup in his/her backyard just because a bunch of city folk listed the location as Alewife station.

This one did make the 100 mile cutoff, so some of us got an alert for it. If we go a little bit further north it'll be too far though.
posted by bondcliff at 4:38 PM on July 30, 2011

If you have running shoes or sneakers that work well for you I don't think you NEED hiking boots for this mountain, although they would still probably be a good idea and bondcliff et al are being good trip leaders by recommending them. That being said, if I am able to come on this hike I will probably wear basic trail-running sneakers for the trip because I am personally familiar with the terrain.

The other nice thing about buying hiking boots is that they are the ultimate "Fuck you, Winter!" shoes that you can push through ice and salt and other crap with.

Finally, I think this MeFike series is great, comparable in greatness to the bi-weekly Thing that I so badly want to attend. I would like to nominate a trip up to Moosilauke in the fall as a potentially fun next destination that would be in line with the current progression of intensity.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:41 PM on August 4, 2011

To me it's like wearing elbow pads and a helmet when you're starting out rollerblading. You might not need them and you might do fine without them, but it's probably a good idea to have them when you're starting out until you're more familiar with things. If I'm the more experienced rollerblader (I'm not...) I'm going to suggest you wear pads.

Mostly you want two things: Ankle support and traction. If you have some shoes that you feel can give you that, that's great. You don't need heavy leather boots, just some light hikers, which as Aizkolari said are great to have anyway.

Moosilauke would be a great next destination, though I'm starting to get the feeling MeFites don't like to get up early and the further north we go the earlier we need to start, especially as we get into the fall.

I wonder if on future trips people would be up for a Friday night group camp to make it easier to start earlier.

Hope you maybes can make it!
posted by bondcliff at 6:21 AM on August 5, 2011

Turns out I have a friend visiting from VT who definitely has no interest in spending her city vacation hiking in NH. Hopefully I'll be able to join you guys next time.

(But to answer previous question - it was probably the terrain that got me. All steep step(pes). And I have solid sneakers that posed little to no trouble in the Blue Hills. Friends who have hiked Cardigan had more or less persuaded me that I could do it, sneakers and all, but other stuff came up Saturday.)
posted by maryr at 11:27 AM on August 5, 2011

That elbow pads metaphor is right on.

Regarding Friday night camping in the fall, I think that's a good idea. For those purposes we can also rent the DOC cabins for pretty cheap.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:18 PM on August 5, 2011

I also know affordable cabins up in the Pemi area.

I think the "don't like to get up early" problem will still be a limiting factor depending on the length of the hike, but that's a great solution for decreasing lead time!
posted by canine epigram at 8:08 AM on August 6, 2011

Dang it, I will not be able to make it to this hike. (Family matters have me on the west coast next week.)

But I hope there is at least one more MeFike before Winter; I'm trying to keep my legs in shape through city walking. How do I make sure I get notified? I'm increasing my IRL local radius to the maximum, but maybe I can get put on any mailing list?

Have a great hike!
posted by benito.strauss at 8:28 AM on August 6, 2011

Ok, it looks like at this point there are only three of us going. Any last minute signups are welcome, just let us know so we know to look for you.

Those of us leaving from MA are going to meet at 8:00 AM at the parking lot for the Woburn Mall, which is located where Rt. 93 and 95 meet in beautiful and historic Woburn, MA. From there we'll carpool up to the mountain.

Watch this space for any updates as it's possible we might change our destination at the last minute.
posted by bondcliff at 7:43 AM on August 10, 2011

Have fun!!
posted by not_on_display at 2:03 AM on August 13, 2011

Greetings from the summit of Mt. Cardigan!
posted by bondcliff at 9:40 AM on August 13, 2011

The three of us had a great hike yesterday and we're already planning future trips, both local and further north.

A couple pictures:

Cranberry_nut and canine epigram on the ascent.

The summit awaits!

Team Mefi on the summit.

Not shown: Mediocre store-bought cookies, amazingly moist brownies, wildlife (a weasel!), beautiful forests, steep rock ledges, good conversation, good beer and food, a single malt scotch buying spree at the NH State Liquor Store and a whole bunch of really good hiking doggies.
posted by bondcliff at 10:56 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't forget the crappy little hiking doggy!
posted by cranberry_nut at 9:29 AM on August 15, 2011

Photos make me jealous. Please plan another one.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:54 PM on August 16, 2011

In case anyone is still following this thread:

Not a meetup, but canine epigram and I are tentatively heading up to Franconia Notch this Saturday to do the Franconia Ridge loop. This is a hard (nine mile loop) hike over two 4000 footers (including the sixth highest mountain in New Hampshire, for those working on your "Sixth highest points in states that begin with 'N'" list) with about two miles of above treeline hiking.

Proper gear (wind/rain/warmth and boots) and snackage/water are a must.

Early morning (I'm leaving at 6:00 AM), long day, etc.

MeMail me if interested.
posted by bondcliff at 7:22 AM on August 23, 2011

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